LONDON — Couriers are quitting delivery startup Jinn over a controversial change to how it pays them for deliveries.
The company’s East London offices were targeted by angry couriers in a protest on Wednesday night, with dozens turning up outside demanding to be paid and publicly registering their displeasure over the changes.
Some couriers are quitting over the service — handing in the pre-paid cards they used to pay for orders to Jinn cofounder and COO Leon Herrera when he went out to speak to them.
Jinn lets users order items from any shop or restaurant, even if they don’t offer delivery. Couriers are provided with a card which they use to pay for orders, and Jinn makes its money by charging the customer a variable delivery fee.
Historically, couriers were paid £8 per hour, plus £1.50 for each delivery made in that hour, couriers told Business Insider. But in a change that was introduced on Wednesday, couriers are paid an “hourly guarantee bonus” of between £8 and £17, but only as long as they make at least one delivery an hour (during “day block” hours) — otherwise they receive a “per drop liquidity bonus” of £7 per delivery.
But some couriers claim that deliveries often take an hour or more, leaving them with an effective wage of £7 an hour (or less), less than the minimum wage for over-25-year-olds.
“We have thousands of couriers on our platform, and an overwhelming majority of them welcome the change. We expect the earnings to increase, and so do most of them,” Leon Herrera told Business Insider in an email. “I will also add that it is utterly false that they haven’t received their earnings.”
One 34-year-old courier, who asked not to be named, said they typically did 10 deliveries in a 14-hour day. They said they were quitting the platform over the changes, and that 20 or 30 other couriers had handed in their Jinn cards in resignation during the protest. (He said he planned to work for UberEats or Deliveroo instead.)
Business Insider saw at least 10 couriers hand their cards to Herrera on Wednesday night, and the cofounder can also be seen holding what appears to be a stack of the cards in a video (below) of the protest.
“I’m no longer your employee, you’ve got my card in your hand,” one Jinn courier tells him in the video.
Herrara was heckled and told he was a “thief” when he talked to the protestors. “You’re treating us like slaves,” shouted one of the protesters. As he walked back to the office, one protester threw a bottle at him. (It narrowly missed but the contents of the bottle splashed onto his clothes.) Some of the protestors shouted “no violence” after the incident.
Police were called after drivers surrounded Herrera and tried to stop him returning to his office, and the protest ended around 7.30 pm on Wednesday evening.
Deliveries can take particularly long, a courier said, because unlike Just Eat or Deliveroo where the food is prepared before the courier arrives, with Jinn the courier often has to wait for it to be prepared — or they can be given time-consuming tasks. They described orders of 20 or 30 items at department store Harrods, taking 45 minutes to find everything.
This is not the first time that couriers working for so-called gig-economy platforms like Jinn have gone on strike over pay. Deliveroo and UberEats saw their riders go on strike last year when they started paying drivers per delivery instead of per hour.